Our Town: Schecter School of LI a little gem in WP

Dr Tom Ferraro

I had noticed a new school in town for a year now and wanted to interview the principal, so I knocked on the door of the new Schechter School of Long Island on Cross Street and dropped off my card two months ago. That’s the last I heard about it. I had given up hope and out of the blue I get a call from the headmistress Dr. Cindy Dolgin telling me to “come on down.”   

So that’s just what I did. On the day of the interview I arrived there before her and was ushered in by the school secretary. I was looking about the office and noticed a panoramic photograph of Jerusalem. I saw the big wall around the city and remarked to her that I had just seen the high budget film “World War Z” starring Brad Pitt. 

In the film, Jerusalem was one of the last safe places on earth because of its great wall. As we talked about the movie I said that zombie movies are so popular because they symbolize our oral greed and rampant consumerism. With that Dr. Dolgin arrived and my interview began in earnest. 

 Schechter School of Long Island is a Jewish Day School committed to providing a dual curriculum of excellence in Judaic and secular education. The Williston Park branch is home to their middle and high school and their elementary school is in Jericho. The day of the interview was very hot and the A/C was shut off for the summer. 

However Dr. Dolgin was utterly unphased as she whisked me about the school showing me their SHEN program (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) their music rooms, the gym and even a media center which produced television programs for MSG ( I must remember to tell her I’m a sport psychologist so they can interview me for one of the shows).

The schools motto is “Excellence, Community and Possibility.” We walked by photos of four former students all in military uniforms. Two had joined the Israeli army and two had joined the US military. She told me that her students were taught to give service to the community. When they arrived in Williston Park two years ago one of the first projects was to make and present goodie bags to every storekeeper in town. 

She then showed me the “Heroglobin Award” which was given to the school because of all the blood the students donate every year. I have always found Jewish people to be very hard working, interesting to talk to, kind and generous. I could see now that this is because their kids are taught these values in school and probably at home as well.

Dr. Dolgin found her way to education in a circuitous manner. She graduated from University of Maryland with an economics degree, did some computer programing and then settled in Israel for seven years. She then went on to get a Masters at the Jewish Theological Seminary and a Ph.D. in education at Columbia. The students who graduate from her school are regularly accepted into schools like Dartmouth, Brandeis, Bard, Barnard, Columbia and Williams College. 

Truth be told I was happy to get back into the air conditioned office of her secretary who surprised me with a full print out of the move reviews and critiques of World War Z.  Now that is what I call going above and beyond the call of duty don’t you think.

This little gem of a school is filled with bright and hardworking kids who are being trained to be generous and altruistic and community minded.  My little column is entitled Our Town and my real interest is in finding examples of community life and to further its growth. With that said I am so happy to have met Dr. Dolgin and to have snuck a peek into this very special school. A school that is producing kids who are taught to care about their neighbors and their towns and their country. So welcome to all the kids and all the teachers at Schechter. Nice to have met you.  Now I have to read that print out the secretary gave me!

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